Engineers play a vital role in the Intel workforce, operating at the heart of their manufacturing and design activities - and we spoke with Amy Nordon, a process engineer in Fab 24 in Intel Ireland, to find out about her experiences in engineering.

Amy Nordon, process engineer, Fab 24, Intel Ireland.

Why did you decide to become an engineer?
I did not make a conscious decision to become an engineer, I always enjoyed STEM subjects at school so I decided to study science at college and then continued on to complete a PhD in chemistry thinking that I would choose a career in research or academia.

However, during those four years working towards my PhD I learned so much about problem solving and enjoyed collaborating with others that I began to think about a career in industry. I applied for a process engineering role in Intel and have been working there ever since.

What for you are the most interesting aspects of engineering?
As a process engineer the most interesting aspect of my job is that no two days are the same, there is always a new problem to solve or a process to try to improve.

Some issues can be resolved quite quickly and others can take teams of engineers weeks or months to come up with a suitable solution, so there is never a chance to get bored and there is always something interesting to work on.

I also enjoy the fact that I am always learning and also get the chance to develop new skills.

What skills do you need to become a good engineer?
In my experience, some of the best engineers I have worked with have a number of things in common: they are open minded when faced with a problem, they are good listeners and communicators and they are good critical thinkers.

Engineers are basically problem solvers, and some problems require a lot of engineers to solve them, so team work is also very important.

What or who inspires you?
The people I work with every day inspire me, we work in a 24/7 factory and it amazes me how we can keep it running and solve the numerous complex problems that arise every day by working as a team.

What can be done to encourage more people to explore careers in engineering?
Traditionally we associate engineering with people who are good at maths or physics, but there are so many different types of engineers and engineering roles in a wide range of industries, and I think this needs to be communicated to kids and young adults who are considering what they would like to do when they leave school.

Outreach programs are a great way of getting this message out to those who may otherwise not consider a career in engineering.

How has the career differed from what you expected, particularly initially?
When I started working as a process engineer for Intel I did not really know what to expect, I soon settled into a daily routine of completing necessary tasks and attending meetings and assumed that this was how that role would be – I was wrong.

I was only in my job six months when I was given an opportunity to travel to Arizona on assignment to work on the newest technology startup. This was a great experience and I learned a lot from it. I am lucky enough to work in a very dynamic and exciting industry where there are new challenges every day.

What do you expect to be the most exciting aspect of engineering over the next five years?
Technology is advancing at a very fast pace and what I am most excited about is how this technology can make the world a better place – whether that is working towards solutions to combat climate change, technological innovations in healthcare or smart solutions to everyday issues that will improve peoples’ lives.

What would you say to someone right now if they asked you should they study engineering?
I would say that you do not necessarily need to study engineering to become an engineer, my background is inorganic chemistry but I have enjoyed working as an engineer since leaving college. There are incredible opportunities to have an exciting and fulfilling career where you can really make an impact.

Partnership to foster STEM skills development

Earlier this year Intel Ireland and Engineers Ireland announced a new partnership to foster STEM skills development in Ireland.

The strategic partnership between Intel and Engineers Ireland will focus on encouraging and inspiring the next generation of engineering talent in Ireland by collaborating on the Engineers Ireland STEPS programme, the only national full-time STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) outreach programme with a focus on engineering.

The STEPS programme aims to encourage and educate future generations of engineers by supporting industry and community leaders to engage with primary and secondary school pupils through a number of hands-on workshops and programmes.

Ann-Marie Holmes, factory manager at Fab24 and vice-president of Intel’s Manufacturing and Operations Group, said: “At Intel, engineers are at the very heart of everything that we do.

"The products that we make, and the technologies in the world around us that those products enable, would simply not exist without the ingenuity, creativity and dedication of engineers.

"We are delighted to embark on this new strategic partnership with Engineers Ireland to further boost the pipeline of STEM talent in Ireland and to ensure that both girls and boys are provided with the opportunity to engage in all that the world of engineering has to offer.

"We are particularly proud to support the STEPS programme and the encouragement it provides in the class room in the early years of education – this is a vital part of building the foundations of a lifelong interest or a career in STEM.”